The British Institute of Interior Design held its annual conference recently to celebrate British Design. A highlight of the event was fashion designer Sir Paul Smith ‘in conversation with’ Daily Telegraph journalist Rosie Millard, looking back at his career as a British design hero and sharing his insights on the role and influence of fashion in culture and interiors. Sir Paul Smith is world-renowned first and foremost for his menswear designs, with each piece sporting his multistripe signature somewhere on each item. Sir Paul’s love of tradition and the classics mixed with his impeccable taste and sense of humour makes each one of his designs highly covetable. In person, Sir Paul Smith is a joy to listen to. I went along to the talk to hear some of his wit and wisdom. Here’s what he had to say…
Sir Paul Smith on his designs: “I think it’s important to mix craftsmanship with a sense of humour. I’d describe my designs as Saville Row meets Mr Bean – I’ll design a classic white shirt, but mix it with some fun colourful socks, for example. I was 21 when I started my own business with the help of my then girlfriend and now wife Pauline Denyer, who was an RCA fashion graduate. She was studying couture fashion and through her I learnt the importance of detail. You can apply the same concept to interiors by thinking about the quality of things, understanding proportions and how they sit together etc…”
Sir Paul Smith on his own home: “I’m a hoarder. I love collecting things that are special, costly and rare and mixing them with things that are found in the street, free of charge or kitsch. I apply this concept to my fashion designs – for example, I’d create a beautiful suit with a flowery line. You can apply this concept to interiors – mixing something rough with something smooth for example, or play with the proportions in a room – so you’d have a large table, with something small displayed on it and highlighted with a beautiful spotlight. Someone once compared one of my rooms at home to a bit like what the inside of my brain must be like!”
Sir Paul Smith on his heroes of interior design: “Furniture designer Robin Day was important to design as was Eileen Gray. And so was the explosion of energy from Bauhaus. I also admire David Collins and the work at The Wolesley. The thing about these designers is that they know how to make things properly.”
Sir Paul Smith on his shop: “I have lots of people walking through the shop every single day, so when people walk inside I need the space to look good but for it to also be ‘bash proof’. It’s important to choose paint colours that don’t pick up hand marks, for example.
Sir Paul Smith on comfort and style: “I adore design, but I feel that things must run parallel in look and comfort. I love Sunday afternoons in a comfy sweater, with a cup of tea. If I’m at a dinner party I don’t want to be sitting in a chair for an hour and a half , which is so uncomfortable that I’d end up in intensive care! Practicality is key when decorating and choosing fixtures and fittings for your own space – is it a house or a home? Personally, I think it should be a home.”
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